Air France strikes end
Air France’s main pilots’ union on Sunday ended the longest strike in the carrier’s history, to allow “calmer” talks to go ahead over the contentious issue of the airline’s low-cost subsidiary, Transavia. The strike has cost Air France more than 200 million euros (US$250 million) over the past two weeks. Air France sees Transavia’s development as vital in the struggle to retain market share in the cutthroat medium-haul sector, which is steadily being overrun by no-frills airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair. The French flag carrier said it expected close to 60 percent of its flights to take off yesterday and it hopes to return to normal over the next two to three days after “mandatory checks” of grounded planes.
New Zealand dollar falls
The New Zealand dollar sank yesterday after the central bank disclosed it conducted its biggest sell-off of the currency in seven years to lower an exchange rate that is squeezing exporters. Data released by the Reserve Bank showed it sold NZ$521 million (US$410 million) last month. That came after bank Governor Graeme Wheeler said the currency was too strong. The disclosure pushed the currency down nearly 2 percent against the US dollar, to its lowest level in more than a year, before it recovered slightly to trade at US$0.78. The currency has dropped 12 percent since July, when the central bank announced it was suspending its program of interest rate hikes.
New Xbox released in China
US technology giant Microsoft Inc yesterday launched its Xbox One game console in China, the first foreign company to enter the potentially massive market after the government lifted a 14-year ban. The launch, which was delayed a week for reasons Microsoft did not reveal, comes as the US company faces a government investigation for alleged “monopoly actions” regarding other products like its flagship Windows operating system, used on the majority of computers in China. In January, China formally authorized the domestic sale of game consoles made in its first free-trade zone in Shanghai, ending a ban in 2000 originally instituted due to worries over content. The zone was established exactly a year ago yesterday. At a branch of Chinese electronics chain store Suning (蘇寧電器) in downtown Shanghai, a salesman said the outlet sold more than 30 limited-edition consoles priced at 4,299 yuan (US$700) after staying open past midnight. A more basic package retails for 3,699 yuan.
Spending up in S Korea
South Korea’s current account surplus narrowed to US$7.27 billion last month due to heavy royalty payments and overseas travel spending during the summer holiday season, state data showed yesterday. The preliminary figure compared with a surplus US$7.84 billion in July, according to South Korea’s central bank. The current account has been in the black for 30 months in a row. Exports last month amounted to US$46.23 billion, down from US$48.22 billion in July, while imports declined to US$42.86 billion from US$45.89 billion. The services account, which includes spending on overseas trips, showed a deficit of US$730 million compared with US$10 million in July. The deficit in the travel sector also expanded to US$770 million from US$550 million a month earlier, while the shortfall in royalty payments — largely in the technological sector — grew to US$380 million from US$20 million.
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be